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Check the latest news and advocacy work from the Australian Spirits Industry.

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  • 24 Nov 2023 11:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The UK Government’s decision to temporarily freeze alcohol duty is instructive for policymakers in Australia, according to the Australian spirits industry.

    UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt on Wednesday announced a freeze on all alcohol duty until at least August next year, in recognition that further increases would mean less tax revenue for Treasury.

    Spirits & Cocktails Australia director Nicole Lestal said the UK experience demonstrates that alcohol tax must keep pace with changing economic circumstances and industry dynamics.

    “Spirits sales in the UK fell by 20 per cent immediately following the unprecedented 10.1% August duty rise, crippling the distilling industry and putting a dent in the government’s coffers,” she said.

    “The UK’s Office for National Statistics found the most recent tax increase contributed to the largest rise in UK inflation ever recorded.”

    Lestal said spirits excise in Australia, which increases twice per year, has risen by a total of 12.5% in under two years, from $88.91 to $100.05 per litre of alcohol, fuelling inflation and cost of living pressures.

    “Alcohol beverages on their own accounted for 5.03% of total CPI composition in the September quarter this year,” she said.

    Australian Distillers Association chief executive Paul McLeay said spirits tax has increased more than 70 times since the current excise regime was introduced in 1983, back when there were only two spirits manufacturers in Australia.

    “There are now more than 600 businesses subject to this tax, which is no longer fit for purpose,” said McLeay.

    “With another excise increase for the Australian spirits industry due in February, we call on the Federal Government to follow the UK’s lead and ease the pressure on Australians by freezing spirits excise.”

  • 12 Nov 2023 8:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    If you are the ADA primary contact, you would have received an email from Deloitte Access Economics inviting you to complete a survey about your business.

    This work has been commissioned by Spirits & Cocktails Australia with the support of Australian Distillers Association, to provide an updated picture of the industry’s current economic contribution and potential for growth.

    The survey includes up to 50 questions relating to your finances and operating model; manufacturing production, distribution and sales; workforce demographics and more.

    I apologise in advance for adding to your workload at a busy time of year for our industry.

    However, I must emphasise that your participation in this research is absolutely critical to ensure we have robust and credible data to underpin our advocacy and engagement with government and stakeholders.

    I want to stress that only aggregated responses will be reported in the final research. Your individual responses will not be made available to Spirits & Cocktails Australia, the Australian Distillers Association, or any other party.

    Deloitte Access Economics is contractually obliged to treat your survey responses with the utmost confidentiality. They will be destroyed once the project has been completed.

    I’m sure you will agree that the stakes have never been higher for our advocacy efforts with spirits excise having recently surpassed $100/LaL

    To help motivate you further, Spirits & Cocktails Australia has donated some fantastic incentives to participate in this research:

    • 1st Prize – five tickets to the 2024 Australian Distillers Annual Conference and a $5,000 travel voucher

    • 2nd Prize – two conference tickets and a $2,000 travel voucher

    • 3rd Prize – One bottle of the Australian Distillers Association’s extremely rare ‘Collaborative Blend’, celebrating 30 years of Australian Whisky.

    The survey is divided into core questions and supplementary questions. You will need to complete the entire survey to be entered into the draw to win these prizes*.

    Please note that Deloitte Access Economics will only be sending the survey to the Primary Contact in the Australian Distillers Association’s member database.

    If that is not you, please ensure you remind them to complete the survey by COB, 1 December so that your company is entered into the draw.

    Thanks for your participation in this important project. Please contact Michael Sugg with any enquiries on 0481 177 160 or email.


    Paul McLeay
    Chief Executive

    * See full prize draw terms and conditions.

  • 12 Nov 2023 8:46 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Producers are responsible for ensuring the quality, safety and regulatory compliance of their products. In order to fulfil this role appropriately and effectively, producers must have the ability to trace their products in order to react quickly and effectively should any consumer safety issue arise.

    Producers often use an identification number or mark – otherwise known as a lot code – as part of their traceability strategy, in order to quickly and efficiently identify the lot (ie, batch of sales units of a foodstuff produced, manufactured or packaged under practically the same conditions) from which a product was part. Lot codes will typically include information such as the line of production, batch number and the bottle reference. The production date can also be part of the lot code, either in a detailed (e.g. 2023.02.03) or in a coded fashion, depending on the operator. All these elements will allow producers to conduct a swift and thorough recall of affected products should any issues arise. Lot codes are also used by operators for protection against counterfeiting, considering that they are unique to a given product.

    Australia and New Zealand

    Legislative framework

    In both Australia and New Zealand, the Food Standards Code mandates that food for sale must bear a lot identification.

    Moreover, there is a prohibition on defacement: “A person who sells a food for sale that is packaged, or deals with a packaged food for sale before its sale, must not deface the label on the package unless:

    (a) the relevant authority has given its permission; and

    (b) if the relevant authority has imposed any conditions on its permission—those conditions have been complied with.”

    There is a specific provision to permit instances where there would be a need to re-label or oversticker in order to be compliant with the Code.

    Penalties in case of infringement of the rules

    Australia: According to the Food Act 1984, “a person must not sell or advertise any food that is packaged or labelled in a manner that contravenes a provision of the Food Standards Code. Penalty: AUD$40 000 in the case of an individual and $200 000 in the case of a corporation”, and “a person must not sell or advertise for sale any food in a manner that contravenes a provision of the Food Standards Code. Penalty: $40 000 in the case of an individual and $200 000 in the case of a corporation”.

    If you would like a toolkit for lot code and traceability requirements for export requirements, please contact Paul McLeay.

  • 12 Nov 2023 8:44 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    You need written permission from the ATO to provide your products in any container more than 2 litres, unless it is under bond.

    The obligation is on you, the producer.

    Several members have made enquiries in relation to the supply of spirits in 20 litre containers. Many members are not aware that you need ATO specific written permission to enter spirits or other excisable beverages (OEBs) into the Australian domestic market (that is, leaving your bond) in a container with a capacity of more than 2 litres.

    For example, a licensed distiller may want to sell spirit packaged in a 20-litre plastic container directly to pubs and clubs, where it will be used to prepare mixed alcohol beverages (such as cocktails) for consumption on the premises. The distiller cannot sell the spirit to those pubs and clubs without first obtaining written permission from the ATO to enter the spirit packaged in the bulk container into the Australian domestic market.

    To apply for permission, submit your request to the ATO in writing and provide:

    • details of the product
    • the container size
    • the intended market (for example, pubs and clubs).

    The ATO cannot give permission to enter spirits or OEBs that are packaged in a container with a capacity of more than 2 litres where they are to be repackaged into any other container for retail sale.

    Spirits or OEBs packaged in a container with a capacity of more than two litres can be supplied underbond and repackaging for retail sale may be undertaken at excise licensed premises, prior to the goods being entered into the Australian domestic market.

    You can contact the ATO for more information.

  • 12 Nov 2023 8:37 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Members should be aware that the Container Deposit Scheme has been extended to include spirit bottles that are sold in, or to be consumed, in Queensland. This was previously only applied to RTDs. This came into effect 1 November 2023.

    If you are a QLD producer, this affects you.

    If you sell your product into QLD, this affects you.

    Many thanks go to the QDA who has been lobbying the State Government for administrative amendments to this scheme. They have been in constant communication with the Minister’s office, the Office of Circular Economy and COEX as the scheme administrator in Queensland.

    Some of the key elements of the scheme are:

    • Your product for sale requires a barcode. You are not required to put a barcode on any existing stock, and you have 12 months to arrange for stock produced after 1 November 2023 to be labelled with barcodes.
    • Your product must have a marking or labelling that state the refund amount, how it can be claimed at a container refund point in a participating state, and it must be of a colour and size that is clear and legible for the container. The QLD legislation does not specify a particular size or colour. You should be aware of this for future label requirements. The QDA was successful in negotiating a transitional period before this is labelling is mandatory. A grace period will be in place for the display of a refund mark on glass wine and spirit bottles until 1 January 2027.
    • If you produce less than 100,000 bottles per year, you will only have to report and pay annually.
    • Packaging that carries the eligible bottles does not need to be barcoded.
    • If you are already registered with COEX as a Beverage Manufacturer (BM) no changes are required to your existing registration / Container Recovery Agreement (CRA), you just need to start registering the new applicable products under existing CRA.
    • If you are not registered as a BM with COEX, you can find out more about First Sale here: First Sale Guide.
    • Existing manufacturers can start registering pure spirit products online now via the Business Partner Portal.
    • If products are sold into Queensland, the products need to be registered with COEX and the beverage manufacturer needs to report on sales.
    • If you sell pure spirit bottles into Queensland, even just online, you will need to register with Container Exchange through their beverage manufacturer registration portal to operate legally in Queensland.

    More information can be found here.


    The new container deposit scheme, VicReturn, commenced on 1 November 2023. While “a glass bottle or glass container designed to hold only pure spirituous liquor or wine” has been exempt from the scheme at this point, those selling cans or glass RTDs are still caught by the scheme.

    Full details of the scheme, including how to register (which is compulsory if you are supplying eligible containers) is available at

    Those affected (RTD or bottled cocktails) will need to enter into a Supply Agreement with VicReturn, and you will be invoiced for the costs on a monthly basis. If you are supplying less than 300,000 containers per annum, you can opt into a quarterly invoicing arrangement. These costs vary depending on the type of container, but will add between 11.0 and 11.5 cents per container (plus GST) to your business costs.

    Other States

    Other states are in various stages of community consultation.

  • 27 Oct 2023 12:14 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Australian distillers dominated the spirits categories at the 28th Australian Liquor Industry Awards (ALIA) in Sydney.

    First held in 1994, the ALIAs is hosted by leading drinks industry publications TheShout, Australian Hotelier, BARS&clubs and National Liquor News.

    The expert panel of 50 industry judges voted up Cape Byron Distillery and Four Pillars for major awards that were contested by brewers, winemakers and global spirits brands.

    Cape Byron claimed Best New Product for its Cape Byron The Original Australian Single Malt Whisky, while Four Pillars was named Best Liquor Brand.

    Archie Rose Distilling Co was runner up for both of these major awards, also claiming the prize for Best Australian Distillery.

    Local distillers further claimed four out of a possible seven off-premise awards for spirits, in addition to several other commendations.

    Australian Distillers Association CEO Paul McLeay said it was an unprecedented showing for local spirits at the drinks industry’s benchmark awards.

    “It was a proud night for our distillers, whose awards stretched across the full gamut of light and dark spirits, liqueurs, RTDs and innovation,” he said.

    “This demonstrates the continued market penetration of Australian spirits, which are clearly resonating with trade and consumers alike.

    “On behalf of the ADA, I congratulate all the successful distillers.”

    Australian spirits honoured at ALIA 2023:


    Winner Never Never Triple Juniper Gin

    Highly Commended Archie Rose Straight Dry Gin


    Winner Archie Rose Single Malt

    Highly Commended Lark Classic Cask Single Malt Australian Whisky


    Winner Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin

    Highly Commended Archie Rose Signature Dry Gin, Hickson Road Harbour Strength Gin


    Winner Aperol

    Winner Sheep Dog

    Highly Commended Mr Black


    Winner Starward (New) Old Fashioned

    Highly Commended Jack Daniels Double Jack


    Winner -196

    Highly Commended Brookvale Union


    Winner Archie Rose Distilling Co.

    Highly Commended Four Pillars


    Winner Cape Byron The Original Australian Single Malt Whisky

    Highly Commended Archie Rose Fundamentals


    Winner Four Pillars

    Highly Commended Archie Rose Distilling Co.


    Winner 1800 Tequila

    Highly Commended Never Never Triple Juniper Gin

  • 23 Oct 2023 10:10 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Australian spirits producers Four Pillars Gin, Grainshaker Vodka and Curatif Cocktails are celebrating a record-breaking night at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London.

    Victoria’s Four Pillars led the honours, winning the International Gin Producer Trophy for a record third time after its back-to-back wins in 2019 and 2020.

    Fellow Victorians Grainshaker Vodka – produced by Top Shelf International in Campbellfield – claimed the Vodka Producer Trophy.

    And canned cocktails company Curatif picked up the RTD Producer Trophy for a second time, having won the inaugural gong for this category in 2022.

    Australian Distillers Association chief executive Paul McLeay said it was another landmark moment for this exciting industry.

    “The Producer Trophies are the most prestigious accolades in the IWSC, which is the world's largest and most influential spirits awards with more than 4,000 entries from distilleries across the globe in 2023,” he said.

    “Our spirits manufacturers have once again proven that their products can compete with the very best and triumph on the world stage.

    “These results further highlight the export potential for Australian spirits, were they not hampered by the world’s third highest spirits tax, which hit an outrageous $100.05 per litre of pure alcohol on 1 August.”

    Four Pillars was awarded 10 medals for its gins in the 2023 Awards, including two gold medals with 98 points for Bloody Underhill Vineyard Shiraz Gin and Single Barrel S36 Gin.

    “Back in 2013, we set out with the ambition to make world-class gin, so to win this award three times is simply mind-blowing,” said Four Pillars co-founder and distiller Cameron McKenzie.

    “It’s a massive thrill for our team back at home and for the Australian spirits industry overall, and even sweeter that Four Pillars celebrates ten years of making gin this December,” he said.

    Meanwhile, Grainshaker Vodka outperformed more than 200 other vodka brands to win the Vodka Producer Trophy, highlighting the quality of its spirits made from Australian wheat, corn and rye.

    The IWSC judges declared Grainshaker a leader in the “grain-to-glass” movement, awarding its Wheat Vodka a gold medal with 98 points.

    “This is a massive win not just for Grainshaker but the Australian spirits industry,” said Top Shelf CEO Trent Fraser.

    “Vodka is one of the most competitive spirit categories, and we’ve shown we can compete on the international stage with the likes of Russia, Poland, France and the USA when tasted blind by the expert judges at IWSC.”

    Australian Distillers Association president Holly Klintworth said she is immensely proud of the industry’s achievements at these prestigious awards.

    “There are now more than 600 distilleries spread across Australia and they are producing some of the world’s finest spirits,” she said.

    “If Australian drinkers ever needed another reason to drink local, this is it.”

    “Victoria has proven once again it is the spirits capital of Australia,” said David Irwin, President of Spirits Victoria Association.

    “These awards are yet another example of how Victoria is producing world-beating spirits.”

  • 11 Oct 2023 4:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    October marks Mental Health Month, shining a light on the importance of good mental health and encouraging help-seeking. This year's theme is 'we all have a role to play' which serves as a reminder that whether you're an employee, manager, or employer you can help contribute to a happy and healthy workplace.

    While awareness days and months are valuable for highlighting key issues and themes, we encourage you to champion mental health in your workplace all year round.

    Training is an effective way that you can build better mental health at work. To learn more about Black Dog's range of skill-building mental health training programs, you can download their workplace brochure or schedule a time to talk with one of their Workplace Engagement Managers about training options.


    Black Dog Institute has received further funding from the NSW Government to continue to deliver Mental Health at Work training programs. Proudly delivering the programs since 2019, over 38,000 individuals have completed the free training, resulting in a 35% increase in knowledge about workplace mental health issues.

    Tailored for employees, managers, and leaders, these programs provide individuals with practical skills to protect mental health, respond to mental ill-health, and promote wellbeing in the workplace.

    Training is free to privately owned NSW businesses with less than 200 employees and not-for-profit organisations of any size.

    Learn more and book training


  • 27 Sep 2023 3:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A big thanks to our guest speakers Gordon Chalmers, Rick Prosser and Sam Slaney, and all members who were able to join the webinar on the day.

    The recording of the webinar is now available - use the link below to access.

    You can also access Gordon's presentation below with some helpful tips.

    View the September PD Webinar

    Gordon Chalmer's Presentation

    Passcode: V@0B#5b?

    A reminder, too, that Australian Distillers has a Safety Toolkit on their website, complied by leading industry experts, Beca. This should be compulsory reading for all members. Log into the Members section on the Australian Distillers website to access this vital safety information.

    Additional safety resources exist in the member portal and the Safety & Sustainability group have more events and content planned for the year ahead to help members (of all sized businesses) with safety in their distillery.

  • 11 Sep 2023 11:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Royal National Agricultural and Industrial Association of Queensland is pleased to announce the Royal Queensland Awards' inaugural Distilled Spirits Competition in 2024.

    We invite potential judges to express their interest in participating on the 8th and 9th of July 2024. The RNA is looking for judges with official qualifications and/or extensive judging experience at all levels, including Head Judges, Panel Chairs, Judges, and Associate Judges.

    The RNA will cover travel, accommodation, and relevant food expenses for the two days of judging at the Brisbane Showgrounds. If you're interested, please click the link below. For any questions, please contact Liam O'Donnell.


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